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Take Five With Patrick Specht

Patrick Specht By

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Meet Patrick Specht:
Local jazz kid looking for some bigger opportunities. Baritone players are a rare breed, and I relish being one. I love playing, and every gig is a learning opportunity, and I want to get as many opportunities to improve as I can.

Instrument(s):
Baritone and alto saxophones.

Teachers and/or influences?
Taught by Nic Meyer, Dan Nicholson, Jim Warrick, and Doug Rosenberg. My influences are all over the place, as I bring influences from rock and metal licks to my soloing on occasion.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I first started playing some serious pieces in high school. Original arrangements of Basie Straight Ahead, Celebration Suite (Bob Brookmeyer), and others propelled my wish for some serious playing.

Your sound and approach to music:
I play a lot more smooth jazz, following the lead of great bossa players like Stan Getz and the great bari players like Gary Smulyan. I have always been looking at what these great players through my transcriptions and ear training to hear how they navigate changes to "Giant Steps" or a laidback tune like "After Hours." I really enjoy the tunes like "After Hours," especially because the changes are so simple that it leaves so much to the musicians own technique to bring out the tone inside them.

Favorite venue:
Through my big band classes at New Trier, I have had the opportunity to perform at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, and that was the best venue I have been in. I love going down there and playing with the school group, as well as supporting friends of mine and fellow musicians like the Fatum Brothers Jazz Orchestra and the DePaul Alumni Big Band. The bandstand is small, but it really makes it a little easier to hear the rhythm section and locking to time with a big band is great on that stage.

The first Jazz album I bought was:
Bags' Groove was the first album I bought. Nic Meyer had my group freshman year working on "Oleo," and I wanted to hear what Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins were doing over the changes. I ended up learning every tune on that album by ear, and it is still in my regular listening rotation.

Did you know...
I have taken many of my leadership skills I learned as an Eagle Scout and applied them towards forming a jazz group called Minor Blues. The group is primarily New Trier students who, like me, would like to get some experience as performing jazz musicians. I am also planning to study music education in the fall at a University.

CDs you are listening to now:
Gary Smulyan, Hidden Treasures (Reservoir Records); Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (Columbia Records).

What is in the near future?
Currently, I am just trying to get my name out there. As a young musician, making connections is a hard job. Coming up, I am playing at New Trier High School's Spring Jazz Concert on April 27th. Check out ntjazz.com for more information. Also, I have gigs coming up in May and June at CJ Arthur's in Downtown Wilmette and the Michigan Shores Club, also in Wilmette. I have some recording sessions with my school's big band coming up, but that decision is still pending.

By Day:
I am a full time student at New Trier High School.

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